Withings WiFi WS50 Smart Body Analyzer

Posted by on Apr 8, 2013 in Cool Tools

hero-lbTracking weight can be critically important for anyone with a cancer challenge. Many factors can affect patient’s body weight, including chemo side-effects such as nausea, vomiting & loss of appetite, as well as digestive dysfunction and bowel problems. Pain meds, surgery, never mind the effects of cancer itself  including the problem of  cachexia are among the myriad factors that can impact weight. The best form of weight monitoring  is to use a scale that measures body composition in 3 broad compartments, lean (muscle) mass, fat mass, and water mass. For example hydration can vary rapidly, and can show up as  fluctuations over a few  hours in total weight. Loss of lean mass is significant, because healthy weight loss is best attained through reduction of body fat while maintaining a good lean mass weight. Domestic or consumer  grade body composition scales have been around for a while, and although they are not as accurate as “industrial strength” medical devices (partly  because they measure  only through the feet, rather than feet and hands) they have been improving over the years.

The Withings WS50 “Smart body Analyzer” is one such device, and anyone with an  iPhone/iPad or android mobile device should take a look at this, the top of the range model. The scale measures weight,  BMI , fat mass, and heart rate  and as a bonus monitors room  air quality (CO2 percentage)  and temperature. The readings can be  delivered wirelessly or via bluetooth to your mobile device and also on to your own personal account on the web (email address required). Multiple users can be added, and goals or targets set with progress charting by week, month etc. The set up is effortless, and it really sets itself up once you have downloaded  free app onto  your mobile device. Each user enters their height, gender, and age and selects a “profile”.  For the more active or athletic, the scale can interface with many different physical activity apps and software, eg for runners. MOre interestingly, it can be used as an input device for  driving a digital health monitoring system, which we will return to soon in this blog. The scale “recognizes” the person using it by remembering the previous readings. The machine is attractively designed, the LED scale readout is clear, large and easy to read. It measures to one decimal place, and the units can be changed  as required. It can be used without wireless or bluetooth connectivity, but then heart rate and fat mass readings are not delivered.

The only criticism I have of the WS50 is that there is no direct reading of hydration percentage. Now it is possible to estimate or guesstimate this by subtracting combined lean and fat mass from total weight, but this is perhaps not super accurate, and indeed ostensibly the reason Withings do not “calculate” the water percentage because of a lack of reliability of the algorithm in relation to true hydration levels.

The scale is available from Withings , or from Amazon, in black or white at about $150.00